You can sleep when you're dead.

April 27, 2013

You can sleep when you’re dead.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard that statement as a response to someone saying that they’re tired.  Whereas I still agree with this sentiment, I also believe that if I sleep when I’m alive, the outcome of my daily activities is far more rewarding, my focus and clarity is significantly sharper and, in general, my mood and existence (I speak not only for myself, but from the opinion of others) is much more enjoyable.  I have found that I have greater success in auditions and performances, which, in turn mortivates me to better myself in my career.  I have a greater drive to exercise, which enhances my energy.  I also just have a much cheerier outlook on life, which keeps me from turning into an anxious ball of stress, an easy downward spiral to fall into in a city of eight million centers of the universe.  

Ever since I was a little girl, I have needed at least eight hours of sleep a night. Rarely did I get it. I have always been a self-motivator and constantly needed to be practicing or learning. From early in life, I was up before sunrise practicing piano only to follow that with school, then homework, then eating in the car on the way to my dance classes that went well into the evening. One day, when I told my mom I wanted to take on another activity, she had to sit me down with my daily schedule and I remember weeping when I realized that there literally just weren't enough hours in the week to do everything I wanted to do. I was reluctant to give in then, and am not a bit surprised at how often I find myself in that same predicament as an adult.

A career in the theatre already exhausts us emotionally, mentally and physically. It is exciting and fulfilling for the soul to live as creative beings engendering the romantic ideals of playwrights and composers. Traveling to foreign places to perform the aforementioned art adds stimulation and inspiration. We live for the work. Always the work! But stir a lack of sleep into the mix, due to the endless dedication to perfecting the craft, and you have a perfect storm of pointless rehearsals, deficient performances, and diva fits.

I don't think I ever really appreciated the importance of rest and down time until I started working consistently. With each job comes a natural progression of anticipation, preparation, execution and emancipation. But when gigs are back-to-back and these processes overlap, you don't have a proper amount of time to adjust to each new task, let alone have a life away from work. Under these all too typical circumstances, this career (dare I say any career) can become arduous and fatiguing. Needless to say, those states of being are not conducive to leading a happy, productive life, personally or professionally.

It is a struggle to sit down and truly clear your mind. Try it. Go ahead. Just try to sit down for one whole minute without thinking about anything-what new music you need to learn today or what audition or rehearsal is tomorrow or even something as simple as what time it is. Let all your thoughts go. I would venture to bet that you'll sleep like a baby.

© Leah Edwards 2017